Lily Pads in Chicago
We are so entrenched in the rhythm of life that we forget to look up and see the world around us. Wake up, get the kids ready for school, exercise (maybe), go to work, make dinner, do dishes, watch a show, try to read a book, and then goodnight. Every Damn day. It can get monotonous and sometimes stressful. To combat the mundane day-to-day, I was introduced to “Lily Pads”. A concept of taking a moment to intentionally plan something fun. It’s that a shiny object to reach for. It could be anything that makes you happy such as a trip, alone time, meeting with a friend, a day off. Whatever floats your boat. This is how to stay positive and happy…keeping an eye on the prize. Swim swim swim and then jump up to take a rest, then swim some more.
Last spring was a particularily intense time. Selling houses and hustling hard can take a lot of energy that I’m eager to spend. I needed a Lily Pad so bad…a few of them. So, I went on a tear and booked weekend getaways with friends, my kids, my man, parents, and anyone who would agree to go somewhere with me.
This time, under the excuse of college tours, my eldest son and I went on a trip to Chicago to see friends and peruse a few college campuses. Two birds, right? So here I am, with a camera full of photos, a heart full of friendship, and time with with the my baby boy who will be flying the nest very soon.
Chicago is one of those places that you read about in books and see on television, thinking you know everything about it. Whelp, turns out I knew very little. Now as I envision this beautiful place, I see sparkling blue bulidings, vast expanses of water, and big skies. Blink once more and there are organized brick buildings and tough yellow leaves that are clinging to every branch they can. Chicago is a place where the wind will make your nose drip and eyes run…then freeze on your face.
The homes here are immense. Maybe I just drove down a few pretty streets, but holy hell, I can’t imagine living in one of these giant residences. I don’t know what I would do with so much space, except clean every day. Primarily made of brick and sometimes wood, every one is full of character. They sit proudly among colorful leaves and blue skies as if they were soldiers arriving in formation.
Would I live here? For sure. Would I survive the cold and wind? Ummm, I don’t know about that but I’d try.
We go way back. Back to the days when our little ones were pre-schoolers navigating the “big yard” and school auctions were the main social events in our lives. When we met, I fell in love with her appreciation for color and pretty things. I am in awe of her. Melinda is one best listeners I know and her wit and charm is like no other. She appreciates design, color, comfort, and (bonus!) where the cocktails are at. Needless to say, we had fun.
When it comes to making a home, this girl is an inspiration. I loved her house in Seattle and I LOVE her place in Chicago. How she mixes color and comfort is incredibly inviting. She is the epitomy of Hygge sprinkled with knitting needles and Glassybaby’s. I am forever grateful for her hospitality and will cherish our long distance friendship forever.
Speaking of friendship, the other fantastic host of this weekends’ adventure was Cole, Melinda’s (and Aaron, who was sadly out of town) teenage son. When the boys were little, he was an active member of our little carpool squad. Cole was tiny, his backpack would take up half of his body and I loved watching him navigate the big world with such confidence. My first memory of him was when he proudly marched into school on his 5th birthday, head held high, knowing he was going places. And boy, is that kid going places. Cole is one of the few people that both of my kids really enjoy hanging out with. He has always been patient with Miles, my younger son while relating so well to Simon, the older one. This trip was the first time I got to know him as a mature person, a far memory from the pokey little dude making his way to the playground. He’s razor sharp, thoughful, and super easy going. It was music to my ears to hear the kids catch up over video games and classes, movies and escape rooms. Time travels so fast, it’s a privelage to watch what becomes of these kids, knowing they are going to be A-OK.
This was the first solo trip we’ve taken together since he was a baby taking wobbly steps in my parents kitchen. Normally we are in the daily grind together. He asks for money or Taco Bell and I ask him to clean his room and unload the diswasher. Boring, right? Bring on the Lillypad.
Together we navigated the city, ate the local fare (I’ve had enough meat and pizza thankyouverymuch), and tromped around gorgeous schools. He was patient with me while I stopped to snap pics, without a peep of protest. We talked about friends, his future, and to my pleasant surprise, architecture. Turns out Chicago is a mecca for talented architects. We spotted Frank Lloyd Wright homes, the John Cusack house, and the tallest building built by a female architect. Together we bemoaned the beauty of the Trump building and appreciated the sea of brick.
The days of being with him are numbered as he quickly grows into adulthood. I am so grateful to get a glimpse of who he is and how he will jump into his bright future. This weekend, I recognized that he’s fundamantally the same person he was when he was 3. He’s forever a “tall buildings” fan (what he was obsessed with as a child), an appreciator of movies and sports, and knows his way around a good dad joke. He will forever be my sweet and funny firstborn and I couldn’t be a prouder of bringing him into the world.
Ok, so back to the Lily Pads. They are highly recommended. If I didn’t take the time to level-set the important things, the thought, “Tonight after dishes, I am going to create a spotlight on the beauty of frienship and family”, would have never happened. As I type along here in my office, listening to my son bake cookies to his hip-hop music, I feel so grateful for the little things. Try it, you won’t be sorry.